News Letter 2017

Mooie Feestdagen (30-12-2017)

To warmly conclude the very important 750th anniversary of foundation, on Sunday, December 17th, the Begijnhof of Breda organized an artistic musical event inspired by the Dutch artist Anton Pieck. In doing so the leaders and inhabitants of the Beguinage wanted to wish “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” –
We may not understand all the texts of the video https://youtu.be/ZS2cjf04urE , but we will appreciate the beautiful music and amazing images of the Breda Begijnhof and we will participate in this atmosphere of celebration and joy that this short video clip offers us.
At the Breda beguinage, all the beguinages that exist and those who are born, also those who for the moment exist only in our dreams and hopes, best wishes for a year 2018 full of great surprises.

Dieudonné Dufrasne (4-11-2017)

Dieudonné Dufrasne was born in 1938 in Cuesmes in the Belgian coalfield Borinage, in the same village where the painter Vincent Van Gogh had lived a period as a preacher of the Bible in 1878. Became a Benedictine monk in 1959 and then ordained priest in 1963, Dieudonné was one of the founders of the monastery of Clerlande where his funeral was celebrated on 27 October 2017. There, he was above all interested in liturgical renewal, but also in the animation of groups and the generous personal welcome that I also received during my research on the beguines. I met him in 1997, in preparation for the DVD “All om all“, in order to have his wise advices. His name will remain linked at the publication in 2007 of Libres et folles d’amour (Free and love’s crazy), one of the first popular works on the beguinal movement, later translated into Italian with the beautiful title “Donne moderne del Medioevo” (Modern Women of the Middle Ages). The book reveals his deep admiration for the loving boldness of the beguines and features three of them: Mechthild of Magdebourg, Hadewijch and Marguerite Porete.
Dieudonné was “A man of God close to the people. His sweetness, his intelligence, his right word express how much he care to be a witness of a God who has become flesh for our joys and our painswrites Marcela Lobo in one of the 52 commemorative texts at

http://www.clerlande.com/2017/10/deces-du-pere-dieudonne
Rest in peace, dear Dieudonné. Earth calls us and Heaven welcome us.

Visiting Belgian Beguinages (25-10-2017)
Beguinal church in Mechelen

Belgium is the country that currently has the largest number of historical beguinages just as they developed in the old Flanders. Since 1998, 13 of them have been recognized by UNESCO world heritage of humanity (see http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/855 ). As always, in order to appreciate any historical treasure, a guide is welcome. So here there is a special one: I introduce you Mr. Graham Keen. This British man who has been living in Belgium for 40 years, when he retired 5 years ago, he discovered beguinages and since then he has become a great enthusiast of this subject. He gives lectures using his 300 photos and volunteers for visits in various beguinages. After his talk, he’s just asking for a beer. On 18 November, in collaboration with the Beguinage of Bethel, he has planned a visit to the beguinages of Malines(Mechelen). You could join this group by writing to: grahamfranciskeen@gmail.com or by calling (++) 32 (0) 478 104.341. Thank you, dear Graham, for your passionate presence.
I also indicate below other very experienced guides:
Mrs Liesbet Peeters <peeters.liesbet@telenet.be> for the Turnhout beguinage
Mrs Alessia Vallarsa <alessiavallarsa@gmail.com> for the three Beguinages of Gent
Mrs. Debby Van Linden <debby_van_linden@hotmail.com> for various beguinages (on remuneration).
I wish you good guided tours when the opportunity will come.

Breda beguinage : happy 750° birthday (19-09-2017)
From letf : Vanna, Alessia, Silvana, Marzia, Nadia, Tilde, Cristina, Martina

First of all, we welcome in the News Letter Beguines all new persons, many of whom were present at the international congress “The beguinal movement yesterday and today“, greatly organized in Breda on August 23, 2017. I myself have patiently enrolled them thanks to their email available in the distributed release that day. This congress was one of the many initiatives organized by Breda’s beguinage to honor the 750th anniversary of the foundation (1267-2017). This meeting was attended by about 140 persones, men and women from Holland of course, but also from France, Belgium, Germany and by 8 Italian women. You can see us in the picture, behind us there is the lawn of the beguinage on which once the bleached drapes were laid. By the side, even today grow aromatic and medicinal herbs. This congress has been a watershed in the history of the European beguinal movement, both for the quality of the interventions and for the first opportunity given to various European women’s communities, inspired by the historical beguinal movement, to find themselves together, to know personally each other and to exchange addresses to continue interacting. Thanks therefore to those who have made this event possible, and in particular to the President Ed Wagemakers, to the Chairman Albert Martens and to the ever-present Martin Rasenberg, as well as to all the volunteers who have translated the interventions, served coffee, prepared the room, cared for microphones and more. Thank you. Dank U.
Those who want to read the interventions can find them, in the language in which they were presented, at http://www.begijnhofbreda.nl/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Binnenwerk_congres-2.pdf?x87368 . Some translations are already available (and others will still follow) by clicking on Jubileum 2017: http://www.begijnhofbreda.nl/internationaal-wetenschappelijk-congres
Good birthday to this beautiful beguinage and its lucky women residents.

German modern beguinal movement (04-09-2017)

A week ago, during the week-end of August 25-27, the important meeting of all modern German beguines was held once again. For years now, exactly since 2002, in the last weekend of August, this appointment, organized by their Federation marks a moment of reflection, of dialog, but also of light-hearted happiness. The theme of this year was no less than The beguinal utopia, and the underlying research was to define the frame of the utopia within the important movement of modern German beguines. We hope to receive in a short time some form of report about the many exchanges that have occurred among the more than 100 women who participated.
On the way back after the very important conference held in Breda on August 23 (about which we will say more in a forthcoming message), thanks to Brita Lieb and his son, we visited three modern beguinages: Bochum, Schwerte and Koln. In these places we have found such a lifestyle and an attitude concerning living and aging that we really felt being in a utopia in action: centrality of human relationships, respect for creation, promotion of the feminine in a feminist optics, mutual help, attention and openness to the needs of the neighbourhood. Where a spiritual dimension is strong, as in Bochum for example, the practice of overcoming historical-theological fractures, not to trite them, but to make them a stimulus to complementarity, is already a daily life. Thank you, dear beguines of Germany, for so much vitality and so much grace in the normality of daily life.

Beguines & chocolate (28-07-2017)

While we are waiting for the important colloquium “The beguinal movement, yesterday and today” which will take place in the beguinage of Breda on August 23, I’m offering to you a light and friendly info at the chocolate savour . The company Corné-Port Royal, founded in Brussels in 1932 by Maurice Corné, who already has some copyright in his famous chocolates (including Manon, with fresh cream), has put on the market small chocolates that on the packaging present known sites of Belgium. In the photo above you can see the one with the beguinage of Bruges. Not bad indeed !
By the way of chocolates and beguines, it could also happen that you will find in one of the texts of the Baci Perugina a sentence of Beatrice of Nazareth (raised in the beguine’s environment before becoming nun Cistercian) “Love Is without why “or another one of the beguine HadewijchIn the deep waters or on the peaks, love is always the same“. The Baci Perugina chocolates with their love texts have been on the market since 1922. (see https://www.perugina.com/it/prodotti/baci in case you do not know them). Mind, this is not advertising, but the pleasure of sharing the discovery of beguine’s traces in our daily lives.

Corpus Christi Feast (03-06-2017)

Did you know that the Corpus Christi feast (Sacramentsdag in Dutch), which will be celebrated on the next June 18, was instituted in 1264 by Pope Urban IV following the vision received by Julienne of Cornillon (1193-1258)? Julienne, an orphan from a young age, was welcomed as well as her sister Agnès, in the beguinal community which was in charge of the lazaret of Mont Cornillon, near Liège (Belgium). Later on, Julienne became a Cistercian nun. The texts of the prayers and the hymns of the celebration, called “Animarum cibus” (food of the soul) are generally attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas. But US experts have recently discovered that the texts of the celebration prepared by the famous theologian are largely derived from Julienne’s work. Again the women disregarded!
Thanks to the Confraternity of the Holy Sacrament of Niervaert in collaboration with the beguinage of Breda, two important initiatives will soon be organized: Thursday, June 15 from 12:00 to 17:00 in the Beguinage church of Breda will be exhibited the relics of Saint Julienne
that will arrive explicitly from Retinne (Liège). Then at 8 pm, Mass will be celebrated, followed by the procession. Do you want to reserve a seat? Write to the President of the Brotherhood, our dear Martin Rasenberg: info@niervaertgilde.nl

Beguinages & Cohousing (28-05-2017)


A new eBook publication is enriching the literature on the beguine’s world. The author, Milena Garavaglia, as well as collaborating in a mental health centre, is also an enthusiast of the beguinal movement and member of our News Letter (milgarav@libero.it). The opportunity to participate in Beginenreise in 2014 (The Beguines Journey in the Lower Rhine region in Germany) has enabled Milena to visit modern and medieval beguinages and to observe the experience of community life. The eBook begins to describe the living needs of women and the current search for housing formulas, with attention to neighbourhood relations and a “spiritual” feeling. Cohousing provides the framework for developing new beguinages. The modern Bochum’s beguinage is a model, and Milena illustrates it with enthusiasm. In special part of the eBook, there are information boxes: what is a beguine, which are the criteria to open a beguinage, etc., useful ideas to extrapolate for interesting life practices. In addition, there are writings of the direct protagonists, including Brita Liebe, the formidable organizer of the Beginenreise.
Congratulations to Milena for the commitment and tenacity of this achievement, available and affordable at the following link :
https://www.amazon.it/kindle/dp/B071L8WTD2/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_eos_det